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Lords of St. Thomas

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  84 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Winner of the 2017 Howard Frank Mosher First Book Prize
Shortlisted for the 2016 Plaza Literary Prize

In the Mojave Desert, at the southern end of the isolated Moapa Valley, sat the town of St. Thomas, Nevada. A small community that thrived despite scorching temperatures and scarce water, St. Thomas was home to hardy railroad workers, farmers, shopkeepers, teachers, and a lo
Paperback, 180 pages
Published April 10th 2018 by Green Writers Press
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Average rating 4.49  · 
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Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This debut novel by Jackson Ellis was inspired by the real Lord family of St. Thomas, Nevada, but the story itself is fiction.

Lords of St Thomas explores the hardships a family has to go through when they are driven out of their homes by the building of the Boulder Dam. The story is told from little Henry's point of view who was a child when their town was flooded.
This book, even though a little short, is certainly quite thought provoking in a lot of ways: it tells a story about family relation
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Henry Lord was born and raised in St. Thomas, Nevada. He has spent his entire young life in the small town, as have his parents and grandparents. Henry lives with his parents and his grandfather, after whom he was named. It's the 1930s and Hoover Dam is being built. The construction of the dam will cause the town to be submerged, so the residents are all moving away. Henry's father and grandfather disagree about what they should do. The father believes they should leave and find a home and work ...more
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think this is an excellent young adult book. It would fit well in a classroom for students of all abilities. If I were still teaching Young Adult Lit, I would be looking into buying a set for my class.

It is the story of a family dealing with the creation of Lake Mead driving them off their land. It's an excellent story about family life, a boy becoming a man, environmental issues, and a changing world.
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
What a cracking good story! The book starts off with "Little" Henry now an old man reading a news report about the waters of a lake receding to reveal a town that had been buried beneath. This sends him and the reader back on a journey into his childhood to a town called St. Thomas where it's population is being forced out of their homes to make way for a new lake. Henry's Grandad refuses to believe that the water would reach his house and doesn't moved out.

The incredible writing starts off slo
Mari LivTollefsonCarlson
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This first novel by Jackson Ellis, inspired by the real Hugh Lord in the lost town of St. Thomas, Nevada, imagines what it is like to lose your home and discover it again. Fictional Henry Lord grew up in St. Thomas, as did both parents, his grandparents and great grandparents, who settled there, following Joseph Smith. In 1936, during the building of the Hoover Dam, when the government tries to relocate the Lord family, Henry’s father and grandfather disagree how to respond. Grandpa won’t budge, ...more
Hope Sloper
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Lords of St. Thomas holds an incredible story within its chapters. It evoked much emotion and thought as I read – happiness, understanding, anger, and sadness – all pulled from inside me onto the pages of the story as if I was the only witness to its tale. And while it may be just a novella, it’s so well written and such a solid story from beginning to end that you don’t feel as though you missed anything. There were no lingering questions when I was done reading the story, only the desire t ...more
Jana Tenbrook (Reviews from the Stacks)
The story starts with eleven-year-old Henry and his grandfather fleeing their house as it is being swallowed up by newly-created Lake Mead. Throughout the bulk of the book we learn about Henry's childhood, and witness firsthand the ways imminent domain affects people. Before there was Lake Mead, St. Thomas was an oasis in the Nevada desert. Due to a combination of stubbornness and tragedy, Henry's family refuses to accept the government's money when Hoover Dam is constructed. They stay in the do ...more
Elizabeth Janczyk
Interesting story. Well done!

Highly recommend checking this out, especially if you have visited Lake Mead and are interested in the history of the area!
Dede Cummings
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Debut fiction from a writer to watch. Ellis has a way of interweaving actual history with coming-of-age and the loss of a way of life. Extraordinary book that keeps you going to find out what was lost in St. Thomas and what can be found in memory and storytelling.
Sean Prentiss
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read this book right before it got published. I loved the characters, the setting, the focus on family relations in the face of environmental issues and how different people care for and care about place and home in different ways. This is a beautiful book written by a great writer, who fictionalized a historic event. I loved reading this book about the flooding of our Desert Southwest landscapes.
Shahab Zargari
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This historical fiction is a true delight. The characters could very well have existed, and the trials they go through are page turners!! You won’t want to put this book down!
Beauregard Shagnasty
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent debut novel from a man who has the talent to go places no one has gone since John Fante died.
Edward Diesel
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent first novel from Jackson Ellis. This has echoes of John Steinbeck and John Fante in it's simple, unadorned prose and emotional weight. Highly recommended. ...more
Patricia Rusch Duffey
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Couldn't put this book down. Read it on an overnight driving trip in just a few hours. Happened to be driving through Nevada when someone mentioned the ghost town of St. Thomas. I searched in books and saw this interesting looking take on what happened there--it's gripping and heartwarming at the same time. From the young boy's perspective, now as a grown man, it brings you back to a time when family, pride, and traditions ruled. ...more
Suze Lavender
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's the beginning of the 1930s and St. Thomas is a thriving small town. This changes when the government starts planning to build the Boulder Dam and buys out everyone who's interested in selling. Many of the inhabitants are leaving their homes and businesses behind. The Lord family is an exception though. Henry's grandfather doesn't want to take the government's money and thinks the water won't flood his house. He doesn't believe it will ever reach that far. He wants to stay where he is, becau ...more
Paul Bennett
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Born and raised in St. Thomas, Lord lived in a small home beside his garage with his son, Thomas, his daughter-in-law, Ellen, and his grandson, "Little" Henry. All lived happily until the stroke of a pen by President Coolidge authorizing the construction of the Boulder (Hoover) Dam. Within a decade, more than 250 square miles of desert floor would become flooded by the waters of the Colorado River, and St. Thomas would be no more.

In the early 1930s, the federal government began buying out t
Lisa Sammet
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book packs a lot in with few words. It won the Green Writer's Press Howard Mosher First Book award. Ellison's novel deserved the award. We recently had the author at our library to give a talk about the book, his research to write the book and how it got published. He was a very engaging speaker and very funny. The book, however, is not funny; rather it is the story of a family, led by a stubborn patriarch who won't accept a buy-out from the Federal government for his land which will eventu ...more
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Samson Haveland
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great tale told with an exceptional vision. I couldn’t put it down, I steamed through it in a couple of days.
Taylor Watkins
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mid-October is, arguably, the most stressful time of year for a college student, and I am certainly not the exception of that idea. That being said, in the midst of all of my midterm exams, I was absolutely delighted to have such an amazing book to read during study breaks. Mr. Jackson Ellis sent me Lords of St. Thomas as an .epub file in exchange for an honest review, and I was pleased to find out what a touching and heartbreaking tale Mr. Ellis' debut novel posed for me.

See my full review comp
Sarah Ward
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent story with a bit of mystery and history.
Amy (Lost in a Good Book)
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
This review was published on Lost in a Good Book

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book for review

The story is about home and the past. It is also about family. Ellis has written a fascinating story that questions all of this and weaves it together with style and seamlessness. The two periods rest side by side and Ellis uses the narrator’s voice to give us all the information we need without heavy exposition. Instead it is woven through and details are revealed at intervals when they are p
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read all of my reviews at

I was contacted directly by Jackson Ellis, the author of this wonderful little gem of a book - Lords of St. Thomas. The book is historical fiction. It is loosely based on actual events and people during the Depression (1930s) in the the small town of St. Thomas, Nevada in the United States. The government has decided to build what we now know as the Hoover Dam. Henry Lord, his son, daughter-in-law, and grandson plan to hold out on selling the family pr
Feb 19, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a nice and easy vacation read for me! Made me very interested in “ghost towns” and particularly the families that are forced to leave. Good story! I think it would make for a good “young adult” classification as some other reviews have noted!
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